New Mexico Healthy Harvests
NEW MEXICO HARVESTS
By: Lisa B. James
Growing anything is quite a feat for some, very easy for others. Botanists, horticulturists,
pomologists and many other ‘ists’ make up the list of special people who are experts at making things grow.
Those of us who love home-grown food and any of us who have ever tried to grow anything in the New Mexico soil
applaud these experts whenever we can. From the very first seed into soil that germinates ever so delicately to the
thousandth pound of pistachio nuts harvested, one thing is certain: growing anything takes patience.
New Mexico is the best producer of green chile
as far as any New Mexican is concerned.
We are so dedicated to our chile pepper that
The NM State University has a Chile Pepper Institute.
We take it THAT seriously.
However, green chile is not the only crop
harvested in New Mexico. Read on for other
edible delights that call New Mexico home.
"You are the Apple of my eye"
I never expected to encounter apple orchards when I moved south--so I was very surprised and happy
to find a plethora of them in New Mexico. New Mexico has over 45 apple orchards where you can find almost any variety.
The U.S. has over one hundred varieties (from Braeburn to Winesap).The most common found in New Mexico are:
Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Winesap, MacIntosh, Johnathan, Red Rome,
Johnny Red, Royal Gala, Stark Crimson, Blushing Golden, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Fuji.
(see more at www.nmapples.com)
Apples are easy to gather, especially for children. Some tips on how to get the most from your apple picking are:
for the ripest apples, pick from the outside of the tree inward; choose firm, bruise-free apples and gently
place them into your basket; store your apples in a cool, dry place and do not wash them until you want to use them. Enjoy!
As serious as New Mexicans are about green chile, there is a town in New Mexico that takes its pies very seriously, too.
It is called Pie Town. Yes, it is a real town. Zip code: 87827. It is 160 miles Southwest of Albuquerque on U.S. Hwy 60.
Annually on every second Saturday in September, Lester Jackson Park hosts the Annual Pie Town Festival.
Usually in September. The 32nd was held this year on 9/12/12
(see www.pietown.com for more details). For those who have a competitive streak
but want to stay closer to the metro area, the NM State Fair also has pie contests every year.
The apple pie contest has both traditional and non-traditional categories.
"Raspberry fields forever"
Another gorgeous harvest in New Mexico is the raspberry.
Donning sunscreen and insect repellant, raspberry pickers head out every summer
and on into fall to harvest that little red berry. There are two popular raspberry farms:
the Salman Ranch in Buena Vista, NM and Heidi’s Raspberry Farm in Corrales, NM.
Heidi’s Raspberry Farm is certified organic and makes preserves year round.
The raspberry jam is made in small batches to ensure the highest quality and preservation of the vitamin rich fruit.
You can find her products at Farmer’s Markets in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Alamos and Corrales.
Heidi has even gone retail, selling at area Whole Foods and other select markets.
The Salman Ranch is located in beautiful northern New Mexico, six miles east of Mora.
The land dates back to the 1800’s when the Mora Land Grant was given to Vincente Romero.
From 1942 –1950, Colonel William Salman purchased various land parcels and reunited
32,000 acres comprising the La Cueva Historic District and it is there that the Salman Ranch still stands.
If you are thinking of growing your own raspberries, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Raspberries tend to prefer cooler climates and more acidic soil. You will probably see full production in about three years.
If you are not the patient type or if you have a black thumb, remember that raspberries produced in the fall
tend to be sweeter, so visit a farmer’s market then and stock up to enjoy fresh sweet berries year round.
Is it a fruit?
All nuts are seeds, but not all seeds are nuts. “True” nuts are both the seed and the fruit.
The tasty pistacho is actually considered a fruit because the pistachio seed (what we eat) comes from the fruit
and can be removed. When the pistachio is mature, the shell pops and causes the seed to be partially exposed--
an action that some people think happens when roasting occurs.
You can buy a pistachio tree for about thirty dollars and you will need at least two trees to produce pistachio nuts,
one male (the pollinator) and one female (pistachio producer). If you add the birds and bees you will get a
pistachio “nut seed”. The pistachio originated in Iran and Turkey and the climate in the Tularosa Basin
is very similar to those Asian countries, with an identical elevation. Alamagordo, New Mexico houses
the two most popular pistachio groves: Eagle Ranch Pistachio Grove and McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch.
Eagle Ranch has free farm tours that occur Monday through Friday at 1:30 p.m. from September through May.
Tours occur twice daily at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from June through August.
Since Eagle Ranch is a self-contained agribusiness, you will see everything from the field to final product
shipping departments during your forty-five minute tour.
Eagle Ranch’s Raspberry Pistachio Bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweet butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Heart of the Desert Pistachios
10 oz jar raspberry preserves
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla.
Beat at low speed scraping sides of bowl frequently until mixture resembles small peas (1 to 2 minutes).
Stir in 1/2 cup pistachios. Set aside 3/4 cup of this mixture. Press the remaining mixture into a 9" square baking pan.
Spread the jar of preserves over the mixture. Top with the 3/4 cup of reserved mixture and 1/2 cup chopped pistachios.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes until crumb mixture is slightly brown and preserves are bubbly. Cool completely. Yield: 3 dozen.
Alhucema – Spanish for Lavender
Lavender, with its soothing and medicinal properties, is in the mint family.
It is most widely known as a fragrant herb used to soothe headaches, aid in sleep and relaxation,
treat inflammation, and as an antiseptic for bug bites. While lavender leaves are rarely used in cooking,
the flowers have copious amounts of nectar which produce a high quality honey for beekeepers,
especially in Mediterranean countries.
New Mexico has its own celebration of lavender at
the Los Ranchos de Albuquerque’s Lavender in the Village Festival.
For more information, visit the website at www.lavenderinthevillage.com.
The Sixth Annual Lavender in the Village Festival is set for July 13-14, 2013
and it is here that lavender is the center of attention,
with good smelling potions and lotions and book readings and culinary delights.
At the 2008 festival, they had their first annual bakeoff. Here is the winning recipe:
GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
Lisa Fleck's Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Yields 24 cookies
6oz unbleached all purpose flour
6oz cake flour
1/2 lb unsalted butter, lightly softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 rounded tbs dried lavender
1 egg yolk, beaten
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix dry ingredients and cut in the butter until fine.
Add beaten egg yolk and mix just until blended.
Finish pulling together by hand into a ball. Flatten the ball and wrap in plastic.
Refrigerate for about an hour until firm enough to roll out.
If you enjoy the Lavender in the Village Festival in Los Ranchos,
you should visit Santa Fe for the Lavender Fair at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas ,
check the website for times and dates for 2013, it's usually in July.
As a plant in New Mexico, lavender is one of the original xeriscape perennials.
It does not need a lot of water once it is established; it can take the heat and direct sun;
it does not need a lot of attention and you can generally plant it on any side of your property.
"Peel me a Grape"
Who would have thought that grapes would abound in New Mexico,
actually the country’s oldest wine producing region.
Well, those who make delicious wine, that’s who. The math is simple: sun drenched climate
+ cool nights at the higher elevation + fertile soils of the Mesilla, Rio Grande and Mimbres Valleys
= production of classic wine grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Zinfandel,
as well as many others. With temperature changes of thirty to forty degrees between the hot days
and cool nights, the sandy soil allows for excellent drainage and decreases the vine’s susceptibility to disease.
The first grapevines planted in what is now the state of New Mexico were brought in by monks in 1629
to a Piro Indian pueblo south of Socorro. The harvest is from mid-August to late September
and wine lovers can sample the bounty of aged crops at the annual Bernalillo Wine Festival each Labor Day Weekend.
While Napa Valley and Oregon produce two of my favorites, nothing can beat the taste and value of a home grown crop.
My New Mexico favorite is Gruet Sparkling Wine Brut and my new find (where have I been?) is
Gruet Sparkling Wine Blanc de Noir. As romantic as the idea of taking a driving tour of Napa Valley is,
why not spend your summer touring in your own back yard.
Although, if you plan to sample any wine you should leave the driving to someone else.
For a complete listing of wineries and their hours, please visit: www.nmwine.com.
"Crack this nut"
The word Pecan comes from the Algonquin word meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack it.
We could not mention pecans without mentioning Stahmann’s Pecan Grove in La Mesa, NM.
Not only is Stahmann’s the largest producer in the U. S. but, when 2,000 acres of trees were planted in Australia,
they became the largest producers in the world.
And with approx. 180,000 trees in the orchard, Stahmann’s produces 8-10 million pounds of pecans per year.
TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
8 slices day-old bread, cubed
1 cup chopped New Mexico pecans, toasted
1 cup chopped green onions
2 egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoon raspberry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cup fresh New Mexico raspberries
Place the bread cubes, pecans and onions in a large bowl. Combine the egg, butter,
vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over bread mixture; toss to combine. Gently fold in raspberries.
Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes
or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Yield: 2 servings.
"You say Pinyon, I say Pinon"
Colorado Pinyon = pinus edulis – two needle pinyon
Edullis (meaning edible in Latin) is the species of Pinon tree that our New Mexico pinon nuts come from.
Why so expensive? $25 per pound for roasted and salted pinon nuts.
It is labor intensive to harvest this wild crop. The harvesting takes place all by hand.
There is no mechanized method for harvesting. Anyone who has tried to harvest pinon nuts
from their yard will remember the annoying sap that goes along with breaking
the pinecone open to reveal the seeds. Also, the roasting is risky because
it is easy to burn the nuts. This is a crop that is better left to the professionals.
From A to T (as in Tularosa… there are currently no ‘Z’ farmer’s markets)
www.farmersmarketsnm.org gives a listing of all farmer’s markets in New Mexico and
also lists the days and open times. Albuquerque offers a couple of growers and farmers markets check out
abquptowngrowersmarket.org/ and www.abqmarkets.org/ . Dont' forget Moriarty and their corn and
harvests stating in September....drive east on I-40 to Moriarty and watch for the signs....
Beginning as early as April and ending with the first killing frost, you can buy the bountiful crops to your heart’s content.
The markets that currently have a winter hours are:
Edgewood, Corrales, Santa Fe, Los Ranchos, Las Cruces and Los Alamos.